No 10 defends ministers over tax advice claims

Downing Street today moved to defend ministers under fire for claiming for tax advice on their parliamentary expenses.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) warned last night that expenses claimed for accountancy fees for completing personal tax returns were liable for tax.



It followed the latest disclosure in The Daily Telegraph - which has obtained details of all MPs expenses claims - that 42 ministers had claimed a total of £25,000 for tax advice.



Ten ministers, including Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, last night issued a statement insisting that they had paid the tax that was due.



Gordon Brown's spokesman indicated that the Prime Minister was satisfied with their explanation - although he said a reminder was being issued to other members of the Government that they must meet their tax liabilities.



"To the best of our knowledge, ministers do appear to have honoured their tax liabilities and will continue to do so. That was made clear in the statement that was put out last night," the spokesman said.



"Obviously, we are in the process of checking whether ministers who are in this position are paying the tax that is due.



"We will obviously be making it clear to ministers that if there is any tax that has not been paid, it should be paid."



The spokesman said it was a matter for individual MPs and the Commons Fees Office whether ministers claimed Parliamentary expenses for tax advice.



HMRC refused to comment on a BBC report that it had begun an investigation into whether the MPs concerned had broken the law. It stressed however that it was very effective in policing that tax rules.



"We cannot comment on the tax affairs of clearly identifiable groups of taxpayers. One of our key roles is policing the tax rules and we do this very effectively to all of our customers right across the board," a spokesman said.



"It's a general principle of tax law that accountancy fees incurred in connection with the completion of a personal tax return are not deductible. This is because the costs of complying with the law are not an allowable expense against tax.



"This rule applies across the board."



Last night's statement, issued by the Labour Party, covered seven Cabinet members including International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon and Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell.



Schools Minister Jim Knight, Local Government Minister John Healey, Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron and Sheffield Hillsborough MP Angela Smith also signed up to it.



In it they said: "To the best of my knowledge I am satisfied that I have honoured all my tax liabilities and will continue to do so.



"The House of Commons Fees Office provide all Members with a P11D form which states all claims including those that are taxable.



"This includes professional services such as accountants.



"The Member then exhibits this form in their self assessment or passes to their accountant to process on their behalf."



The Daily Telegraph reported that at least seven ministers, including Mr Miliband, employed Dennis Bates, the husband of former foreign office minister Meg Munn, to complete their returns.



Ministers who have made claims using other tax advisers include Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, Universities Secretary John Denham, Europe minister Caroline Flint and Treasury minister Angela Eagle.



Gareth Thomas, the consumer affairs minister, claimed more than £1,000 for accountancy services to help him recover an overpayment of more than £2,000 made to the tax authorities during a previous year, the Daily Telegraph said.



The paper also claims that although ministers have said the advice was necessary for their work as MPs, the receipts make it clear that they were given help with their "personal" tax affairs.



Meanwhile, the "Star Chamber" panel set up by Labour's ruling national executive committee to investigate complaints against MPs was beginning its first hearings into backbenchers Elliot Morley, Ian Gibson, and Margaret Moran.



Party sources indicated that the process would take several days and that no announcements were expected today.



Ms Moran said that she would not be attending due to ill health but she would be sending a representative.



On a campaign visit to North Shields, Mr Brown said that action was being taken to deal with MPs who had misbehaved.



"I assure you, we are taking the action necessary," he said.



"Any MPs who have misbehaved will be dealt with, any MP who has to be disciplined as a result of what they have done will be disciplined, anybody who cannot stand at the next election because of what they have done, we will take the action that is necessary."

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit